2022 UCLA Bruins Preview

by Matt Fargo

UCLA Bruins

2021-22 Season Record 8-4 (6-3 Pac 12 South) - 8-4-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 6
Defense - 2

Overview

UCLA is considered one of the storied programs in college football which is a very questionable label. The last time the Bruins finished in the final AP Top Ten was 1998 which was toward the end of their last real consistent run of winning. Since 1999, they have been ranked at the end of the season only three times, none since 2014, despite being ranked at some point in the season in 14 times in those 23 years. UCLA snapped a five-season losing streak last year with an 8-4 record with head coach Chip Kelly responsible for three of those losing campaigns and while things look to be on the upturn, there are a lot of questions going into this season. They had 20 starters return in 2021 so expectations were high and while an eight-win season was good, it should have been better. This season, only eight starters are back and with no Pac 12 divisions, rising to the top will be tough.

Offense

The Bruins have gotten the offense rolling the last couple seasons and last year, they finished No. 31 overall, averaging 441.2 ypg and No. 12 in scoring offense with 36.5 ppg. There are pieces in place to keep the unit moving but there are also holes that will have to be filled. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the offense and put up great numbers, throwing for 2,409 yards with 21 touchdowns with only six interceptions and he can use his legs for production as well. His receiving corps will be relatively new as leading receiver Kyle Philips is gone and the lone holdover with any significant experience is former running back Kazmeir Allen who will working out of the slot with the other two spots being taken over by transfers. The offensive line will be ok with three starters back and the running game lost a big part in Brittain Brown but Zach Charbonnet is back after rushing for 1,137 yards.

Defense

This is where things could get real sticky as the Bruins have to replace nine starters from a defense that finished No. 70 overall, allowing 384.4 ypg while giving up 26.8 ppg, which was No. 74 in the nation. UCLA was not clutch on this side of the ball as it allowed opponents to convert 43.6 percent of its third down opportunities, tied for No. 110 in the country and the new look defense is going to take some time to come together. The defensive line will feature three transfers to fill some big shoes that have departed and they will work around Bo Calvert who led the team in sacks with four and is moving from linebacker to end to get more pressure. The linebacking corps will be even more thin now and they will need Hawaii transfer Darius Muasau to produce right away. The secondary got blown up as well with senior safety Stephan Blaylock having the most experience.

2022 Season Outlook

The Bruins have to tackle the entire conference and not just the South Division with the current realignment taking place this season. If the transfer portal is going to affect one team the most in the entire country, it is probably UCLA as it is going to rely on numerous transplants. Kelly knows his offense and it has finally come around behind Thompson-Robinson who is a special talent but he still needs help around him. UCLA has eight home games which is a huge benefit and a 4-0 start is a likely given but then a tough home test against Washington cannot be overlooked. Then it is Utah and Oregon in back-to-back games albeit with a bye in-between, and the latter half of the Pac 12 schedule includes three games against three improved teams. The O/U Win total is set at 8.5 and the last time UCLA won this many games was in 2014 with a lot more talent than what they have this season. 


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